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Battle of the Atlantic 70th anniversary events

Liverpool will take centre stage as the UK commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic (BOA 70) this weekend.

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HMS Bulwark, Flagship of the Royal Navy, transits into Liverpool for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Nicky Wilson, Crown copyright]

HMS Bulwark, Flagship of the Royal Navy, transits into Liverpool

The theme of BOA 70, which marks the longest continuous military campaign of the Second World War, is to illustrate the past, present and future of the UK’s rich maritime heritage. Particular emphasis is placed on the role played by Battle of the Atlantic veterans – both Merchant and Royal Navy – in helping overcome the appalling threat that German U-boats posed to our country’s supply lines during the war.

BOA 70 also aims to highlight the ongoing reliance that Great Britain still has on the sea, and the continuing relevance of the Royal Navy in protecting the nation’s many interests around the world.

A wide range of events are scheduled to take place in Liverpool over the weekend, including:

  • over 20 warships visiting the city drawn from 6 countries
  • a military capability demonstration
  • a Royal commemoration ceremony in the Anglican Cathedral
  • a military and veterans’ parade at the Anglican Cathedral and nearby streets
  • a Fleet Air Arm fly-past to honour the role of aviators in the Battle of the Atlantic.
The Operations Room at Derby House in Liverpool
The Operations Room at Derby House in Liverpool, the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches, September 1944 (library image) [Picture: Lieutenant C H Parnall, © IWM (A 25746)]

There is also plenty on offer for the public to engage with at the Pierhead, Albert Dock and Princes Parade over the weekend, including static and kinetic displays by the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, RAF and the Army including helicopters, a Sea Harrier cockpit display, a combat display team, a Typhoon, a Chinook, climbing walls, a combat chef cooking demonstration and much, much more.

Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for culture and tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said:

It is a real honour for Liverpool to be the national focus of these 70th anniversary commemorations. When it comes to maritime events, Liverpool excels. We’re expecting around 250,000 visitors, and whatever the weather, the city will shine.

Working in partnership with the Royal and Merchant navies, we are proud to have developed a huge programme consisting of well over 100 events. These will not only be a tribute to those who took part in the Battle of Atlantic, but will also appeal to people of all ages, entertaining them but also teaching them about the sacrifices made for the lives of future generations.

The German battleship Bismarck firing at HMS Hood
The German battleship Bismarck firing at HMS Hood during the action in the Denmark Strait. This photograph was taken from the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen (library image) [Picture: © IWM (HU 381)]

The senior naval officer for northern England, Rear Admiral Chris Hockley, said:

I was delighted to be in Liverpool last month for the launch event and, as I said at the time, the city is absolutely the right place for the national focus on commemorating the Battle of the Atlantic on its 70th anniversary.

It was the home of the Western Approaches operations room and the receiver of over 1,000 convoys, together with ship repair and building activity in support.

The events planned over the weekend of 24-28 May – the time in 1943 recognised as being the turning point for this long and drawn out battle – will provide a fantastic opportunity for the public to engage with, and learn more about, those who made such a vital contribution, including Merchant and Royal Navy veterans.

Published 24 May 2013